The student only held the gun for a few seconds, but it had repercussions for both of them.
Here's a surprise: it turns out that when you pay people to bring guns into schools, kids can get their hands on guns. That's what happened this week at Varennes Elementary School in Anderson, South Carolina. An armed guard was sitting on a bench, talking to a student, when the fifth-grader on his other side slipped his gun out of his holster without him noticing. The child held the gun for as long as ten seconds before the guard took it back, long enough for the incident to get back to school administrators.
The student was disciplined and the guard was replaced, but parents are still up in arms. They want to know what's being done to make sure this doesn't happen again, and the school doesn't have much of an answer.
The guard worked for Defender Security, a private company. Anderson schools started using Defender in the last year, because their guards are mostly ex-military or law enforcement, and because they're much less expensive to employ than the active duty officers used by other schools in the area. Now, it seems like there's a good reason for that.
The real question, at least to me, is why all these schools feel the need for armed security forces patrolling the halls. Apart from the message that it sends students (that they're in a prison for children), it seems ludicrous to think that children would be safer by surrounding them with guns. What's more, the screening process for private security guards is much lower than that for law enforcement officers. In some states, guards basically just have to provide their own gun.
I'm sure people will disagree with me, and I'm no expert, but I remember being in fifth grade. I felt like I was in enough danger on a day-to-day basis without seeing guns in the halls all the time. And if a dangerous intruder had walked into the school, I still wouldn't have wanted armed guards there. Obviously it's very easy to take their guns away.